For almost a year now, families across America have been forced to struggle with the task of providing in-home education for their children, as teachers’ unions have aggressively lobbied for school closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One angry parent recently made headlines, after screaming at Virginia’s Loudoun County School Board for continuing to keep schools closed.
“You should all be fired from your day jobs, because if your employers knew that you were more inefficient than the DMV, you would be replaced in a heartbeat,” he said. “I literally just finished a conference call because I’m having to multitask to be here to address you guys.”
He continued by noting one of the biggest frustrations over the continued school closures: They’re not based on any scientific data.
“You think you’re some sort of martyrs because of the decisions you’re making when the statistics do not lie that the vast majority of the population is not at risk from this virus,” he said.
No Data Supporting School Closures
It’s inexplicable that teachers’ unions are fighting nationwide to keep teachers home, rather than in schools, when data indicates no elevated risk of contracting the virus in school.
In June 2020, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) presented data compiled from around the world, which shed light on the safety concerns surrounding school reopenings.
“Let’s start in Europe. Twenty-two countries have reopened their schools and have seen no discernible increases in cases,” he stated during a presentation at a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on June 30. “These graphs behind me show no surge when schools open.”
“There is data from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands: no spike when schools are opened,” he added.
Elliot Haspel, an early childhood and K-12 education policy expert, echoed the data presented by Paul, and noted that “no nation in the entire world reports child cares or elementary schools as significant sources of transmission.”
Haspel is hardly cavalier in his views on school reopenings, calling shutdowns at the onset of the virus outbreak in March 2020 a “wise precaution,” and even went so far as to say keeping them open “would have been reckless bordering on malpractice.”
It’s important for people to understand that we now have a year’s worth of data from around the entire globe—we know exactly how the virus impacts children, and we know that teachers are at exceptionally low risk of catching the virus at school.
“Many children with COVID-19 are asymptomatic; in the absence of coughing and sneezing, they emit fewer infectious droplets,” epidemiologist Daniel T. Halperin wrote in an op-ed in May 2020.
“Remarkably, contact tracing studies in China, Iceland, Britain, and the Netherlands failed to locate a single case of child-to-adult infection out of thousands of transmission events analyzed. A review of studies from several Asian countries identified few cases of children bringing the virus home, and a recent analysis of COVID-19 interventions found no evidence that school closures had helped contain the epidemic,” he added.
Setting aside the debate over false positives and other skewed data, here are other statistics to consider:
The vast majority of deaths related to the virus are among those 55 or older. Studies also show that men are more likely to suffer severe effects of the virus and are more likely to die from it than women.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported the average age of public school teachers is 42 years old and the median age is 41. Their data also shows that more than 80 percent of teachers are below the age of 55 and more than 76 percent are female.
The science is clear: The overwhelming majority of American teachers are among the least likely to suffer severe effects or die from COVID-19.
Believe Science, Right?
If we’re committed to empiricism in our analysis of this issue, then it means that it’s safe to reopen America’s schools for in-person instruction. It has been for quite some time—we have nearly a year’s worth of evidence. And, by lobbying for schools to remain closed, teachers’ unions have rendered the teachers they represent entirely nonessential.
Families who are already struggling with other aspects of the overblown response to this pandemic shouldn’t have to pick up the slack for teachers who would rather spend their time making cringeworthy dance videos or for union executives who are milking this crisis for more time to sun their cheeks on tropical beaches.
There’s a harsh logic behind all of this, which is that teachers’ unions don’t exist for the purpose of helping children or their families—a fact openly stated by Albert Shanker, former head of the United Federation of Teachers, who said, “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of schoolchildren.”
(This article ran at The Epoch Times: https://www.theepochtimes.com/if-we-believe-science-then-its-time-to-reopen-our-schools_3680176.html)